Freud believed that at the root of depression or what he termed “melancholia” is the concept of self-hatred. In fact, he believed that self-hatred or this self-attacking “inner critic” was a core element in understanding depression. These supremely judgmental tendencies are targeted towards the self in self-harming and self-destructive ways. We all have an “inner critic”, that inner voice that nags or berates us into what we should or could be doing or feeling. That aspect or part of ourselves that judges us so unmercifully. The “inner critic” robs us of our innate goodness, worth, talent, values, and ability. It’s a part of us that is a conglomeration of harsh voices from our past: our parents, teachers, pastors, priests and individuals in authority over us.
The first step in psychotherapy is to identify this “inner critic” or “inner judge”, as most of the time we have become so used to this in our mind, we aren’t even aware when it’s speaking or operating. The next step is in giving ourselves the permission to fail or to be compassionate towards ourselves. But this of course is easier said than done and requires that working through in therapy to highlight these entrenched beliefs and ways of being in the world.